For years, Jeri Stuart didn’t get a flu shot. Now, the 54-year-old breast cancer survivor doesn’t want to gamble with her health.
He got a flu shot last week.
“My mother always hounded me to get them done,” she said. “I thought, you know what, let’s do everything we can to make sure she doesn’t make me sick.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges everyone older than 6 months to also get a flu shot. Public health officials are concerned about a false sense of security after two milder flu seasons due to COVID precautions.
Australia, which experiences winter before the US, just had its worst flu season in five years.
“I don’t want to be alarmist, but I’m concerned. We know it’s going to be a strain of flu that tends to be more severe,” said Dr. Michael Phillips, an infectious disease expert at NYU Langone Health. “For people over the age of 65, there are specific formulations of vaccines that you should receive and it dramatically reduces the likelihood of hospitalization and death.”
Less than half of US adults plan to get a flu shot this year and only a third feel safe getting a flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time, according to a survey by the National Foundation for Disease infectious.
Stuart opted for a flu shot and the bivalent COVID booster, which the CDC says can be given together safely.
“If it’s something that’s going to help decrease symptoms, then anything helps,” he said.
Flu season typically begins in October, peaks from December through February, and can last into spring. Like COVID vaccines, the flu shot may not prevent you from getting infected, but the CDC says it can significantly reduce your risk of hospitalization and death.